Session 48 – Selecting Locations for Chiropractic Offices
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Hello. This Scott McDonald and welcome to the Perfect Place to Put a Practice Podcast.
Today I want to speak specifically about what it takes to select locations for Chiropractic Offices and other practitioners of manual therapy professions including massage therapy, osteopathy, and physicial therapy. To be honest, I have provided reports and consultation to doctors of chiropractic and manual-therapy professionals throughout the United States and have studied the issues that will make one site better than another for a long time. I think I have a handle on the key issues involved. But this has been something of a frustrating experience more due to the nature of the practitioners than the profession itself. Now, if you are one of these professionals, I do not mean to start-off my little talk by being adversarial. Nevertheless, there is an independent streak in these doctors that tends to distrust statistics and convention. I think this goes back to Daniel David Palmer himself. As a major advocate for alternative medicine, he met with tremendous opposition and this has seemed to have been continued by many adherents to the discipline.
As I have found, chiropractic has two man disciplines and these will tend to have locations that will more naturally appeal to a patient base. The “Straights” are those who believe in vitalism. These professionals believe that vertebral subluxations are the cause of all disease. To paraphrase Arnold Mitchel, the research who defined psychographics, the patient base that is most attracted to this side of chiropractic are “experientialists.” Rather than follow a single path to alternative medicine, they follow a wide range of disciplines and belief systems (including aroma therapy, carefully selected diets including veganism, Eastern Religious philosophy) that appear quite eclectic to non-practitioners. They often devote themselves to a lifestyle rather than a treatment modality. In short, they don’t get along well in environments with practitioners of more traditional medical disciplines.
The other discipline in chiropractic are the mixers. They tend to be more open to more mainstream views and conventional medical techniques such as exercise, massage, and ice therapy. In some locations, the hostilities between alternative and mainstream medical practices has somewhat lessened for reasons that are well beyond the purpose of this podcast. We will only leave the following guidelines based upon our work and observations. I make no claims of endorsement or refutation of efficacy. It is outside my scope of service.
For those who want to practice along a “straight” definition of the services, the ideal locations will tend to be in sites with a large number of practitioners of alternative lifestyles. These seems to exist near large college campuses primarily and would prefer practices near retail outlet they frequent. The population tend to be apartment dwellers and have a below average rate of marriage. While they are not advocates of a religion, they consider themselves spiritual and often seek services of wide breadth based upon diet, exercise, and meditation. Rural and suburban sites that are suitable will tend to be quite rare.
The “mixers” are a much larger group and take in more variations on suitable locations. The practices we have recommended most often are in stand-alone buildings with good visibility but are not tied to a retail location (like a shopping center). However, strip mall sites are increasingly popular. Chiropractic is mainstream and does not need a population with a particular cross section to be potential patients. We do not recommend looking for a population that is going fit an age or income threshold although practices will tend to focus upon households of a different socioeconomic cross section. In other words, some practices will appeal more to the different income and age strata in a community.
The mixers often do best when they publicize specific services or disciplines to their potential patients rather than providing a “generic” brand. Additionally, publicity often works best for these practices when benefit statements are included in messaging.
One aspect of all of the other manual therapy professions including massage therapy, osteopathy, and physical therapy is that people are willing to travel some distance to go to a practice they like. There is a definite emotional bond between practitioner and patient. Therefore, a message “convenient location” does not play as strongly as it would for other medical and dental offices. This is in spite of the fact that treatments may be frequent. This is all the more reason, however, that visibility of the office space should be at a premium for this offices. To be honest, we have had a little controversy in our office on whether being in a medical center or plaza is more desirable for massage and physical therapy as well as osteopathy because it lends an air of legitimacy to the practice which matters much more to some doctors than to others.
There is one thing we know absolutely. There is a great deal of emotion and strong opinion when it comes to these practices that is lacking in other healthcare offices.
This is Scott McDonald of DoctorDemographics.com. If we can help you in determining the best place to practice or to evaluate sites you have found, please let us know and we will be happy to help. Or call us at (800) 424-6222.